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D A N C E 



BEAT II; 



PAINTED 



II. li O L B E I N. 



E X G R A ^' E D 



E Y 



\r. II O L L A R. 



ON THE 



DANCE OF DEATH. 

< 

1 H E celebrity of a subject which has been 
<-^ distinguished by the labours of such artists as 

Holbein and Hollar, seems necessarily to de- 

mand some investigation of its origin.* 

{ 

|\, * It would be a piece of injustice not to mention, that 

-^ this has already been done in a very able manner by a 

respected friend of the compiler of the present essay, 
^ in a little work, intitled *' Emblems of Mortality," or- 

p^ namented with copies in wood of the Dance of Death, 

VT by J. Bewick, the brother of the admirable artist who 

to 

executed the cuts to a history of quadrupeds, lately 

J B 



I 



A' 



2 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

In the dark ages of monkish bigotry and 
superstition, the deluded people, terrified into a 
belief that the fear of death was acceptable to 
the great Author of their existence, had placed 
one of their principal gratifications in contem- 
plating it amidst ideas the most horrid and dis- 
gusting : hence the frequent descriptions of 
mortality in all its shapes amongst their writers, 

published. The work was printed for T. Hodgson, 
Clerkeawell, in 1789, ISmo. The editor of it will 
immediately perceive that no rivality is here intended ; 
that in the pursuit of a subject of thisuature many of the 
same authorities must have naturally presented them- 
selves, and, in order to connect it properly, must again 
be of course adopted. Independently of these, the rest 
of this slight performance is only designed as supple- 
mental. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 3 

and the representations of this kind in their^ 
books of religious offices, and the paintings 
and sculptures of their ecclesiastic buildings. 
They had altogether lost sight of the conso- 
latbry doctrines of the Gospel, which regard 
death in no terrific point of view whatever ; 
a discovery reserved for the discernment of 
modern and enlightened Christians, who con- 
template scenes which excited gloom and me- 
lancholy in the minds of their forefathers, 
with the gratification of philosophic curiosity. 
Some exceptions, however, to this remark 
are not wanting; for we may yet trace the 
imbecility of former ages in the decorations 
of many of our monuments, tricked out in 
all the silly ornaments of death's-heads and 
marrow-bones. 

B2 



4 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

The most favourite subject of the kind, 
however, was what is usually denominated 
the Dance of Death, or a representation 
of Death in the act of leading all ranks 
and conditions of men to the grave; with 
gesticulations not a little bordering upon 
the grotesque, though probably without any 
view to provoke the mirth of the spectator in 
those times. One of the most ancient still 
existing, is that at Basil in Switzerland, in 
the church-yard formerly belonging to the 
Convent of Dominicans, which is said to 
have been painted at the instance of the fathers 
and prelates assisting at the grand council at 
Basil, in 1431, in memory of a plague v;hich 
happened soon afterwards, and during its 
continuance. The name of the painter is 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 5 

unknown, and will probably ever remain 
so, for no dependence can be had upon 
the vague conjectures of those, who, without 
any authority, or even the smallest proba- 
bility, have attempted to ascertain it. To 
refute, or even to mention the blunders 
which have been committed by most of the 
travellers who have described the town of 
Basil, when they discuss this subject, would 
fill a volume : it will be sufficient to notice 
an assertion of Keysler, that the painting 
was executed by Hans Bok, a celebrated 
painter of this place, who, however, from 
the testimony of Scheutzer, in his Itinerary, 
was not born till 1584. From some in- 
scriptions on the spot, it appears to have 
been retouched, or perhaps renewed, in 1566 



b ON THE^ DANCE OF DEATH. * 

and 1616; the first time probably by Hans 
Klauber, whose name occurs in the lines ad- 
dressed by Death to the Painter. 

It has been frequently supposed that the 
Basil painting was the first of the kind; but this 
is extremely doubtful, from the knowledge we 
have of many others of apparently equal an- 
tiquity. Many of the bridges in Germany 
and Switzerland were ornamented in this 
manner, a specimen of which is still to be 
seen at Lucerne; and it is probable that 
almost every church of eminence was de- 
corated with a Dance of Death. lu the 
cloisters of St. Innocent's church at Paris, in 
those belonging to the old Cathedral of St. 
Paul at London, and in St. Mary's church 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 7 

at Berlin, these paintings were to be seen. At 
Klingenthal, a convent in the little Basil, are 
the remains of a Dance of Death, differently 
designed from that at the Dominicans, and 
thought to be more antient. The figures re- 
maining till very lately in Hungerford's chapel, . 
in the Cathedral at Salisbury, and known by. 
the title of Death and the Young Man, were 
undoubtedly part of a Death's Dance, as might 
be further insisted on from the fragment of 
another compartment which was close to 
them. In the church at Hexham, in Nor- 
thumberland, are the remains of a Death's 
Dance ; and at Fescamps, in Normandy, it 
is carved in stone, between the pillars of a 
church ; the figures are about eighteen inches 
high. Even fragments of painted glass! 



8 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

whereon this subject has been depicted, with 
old English verses over the figures, may con- 
tribute to shew how very common it has been 
in our own country. P. C. Hilscher, in a 
tract printed Dresden, in 1705, has taken at 
notice of other Dances of Death, at Dresden, 
Annaberg, Leipzig, and Berne. Dr. Nu- 
gent has described one in St. Mary's church 
at Lubeck, which he states to have been 
painted in 1463, 

The origin of all these is perhaps to be 
sought for in an antient pageant, or religious 
farce, invented by the clergy, for the purpose 
of at once amusing and keeping the people in 
ignorance. In this all ranks and conditions 
of life were personated and mixed together in 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 9 

a general dance, in the course of which every 
one in his turn vanished from the scene, to 
shew that none were exempted from the stroke 
of Death. This dance was performed in the 
churches, and can be traced back as far as 
the year 1424 ;* it was called the Dance of 
Macaber, from a German poet of that name, 
who first composed some verses under the 
same title. Of this person very little is 
known, but Fabricius thinks the poem more 
antient than the paintings.f His work has 
been translated into Latin and French, in 
the last of which languages there are some 
very antient and very modem editions. 



Glossar. Carpentier, Tom. II. li03. 
t Bibl. med. et infim, iEtat. 



10 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

The earliest allusion to the subject, but 
whether to the above-mentioned farce or to 
the paintings seems uncertain, is in the fol- 
lowing lines, from the Visions of Pierce the 
plowman, who wrote about 1350. 

Deatli came drivj'nge after, and all to dust pashed 
Kynges and kayscrs, knightes and popes 
Learned and lewde, he ne let no man stande 
That he hitte even, he never stode after. 
Many a lovely ladie, and leramans of knights 
Swonned and swelted, for sorow of deathes dyntes. 

When the arts of printing and engraving 
became established, various copies of the 
Dance of Macaber made their appearance, 
particularly in the Hours, Breviaries, Missals, 
and other service books of the Church, few of 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 11 

which were unaccompanied with a Dance of 
Death ; and in these the designs sometimes 
varied. Many of our own service books for 
the use of SaHsbury were thus decorated, and 
the fashion at length terminated in a book of 
Christian prayers, printed more than once 
during the reign of Elizabeth, since which 
time nothing of the kind has appeared. In 
all these are to be found the same dull and uni- 
form representation of Death leading a single 
figure, without much attempt at character or 
execution, until at length there appeared, in 
1538, a book, intitled '' Les simulachhres 8; 
historiees faces, de la mort, autant elegam- 
ment pourtraictes, que artificiellement ima- 
ginees." It was printed at Lyons by Mel- 
chior and Gaspar Trechsel, and is accom-. 



12 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

panied with forty-one of the most beautiful 
groupes of figures that can be well conceived, 
both for their composition and execution, 
being most delicately cut on wood, and sur- 
passing in this branch of art almost every 
thing of the kind that has appeared before or 
since. This work was often republished, as 
well in the French, as in the Latin and Ita- 
lian languages,"^ and has been usually deno- 

♦ The following is presumed to be a tolerably correct 
list of the various editions of this book : 

" Simulachres «& historiees faces de la mort, &:c." 
Lugd. 1538. 4to. 

" Imagines de morte." Lugd. 1542. 12mo. 

** Imagines mortis." Lugd. 1545. 12mo. 

" Imagines mortis." Lugd. 1547. 12mo. 

" Les images de la mort." Lyon 1547. 12mo. 

" Simolachri, historic, e figure de la morte." Lyone 



' ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 13 

mmated, by most oif the writers upon the arts 
of painting and engraving, as well as by many 
travellers, Holbein s Dance of Death. It is 

1^9. 12mo. with an address from the printer, in which 
he complains of some attempts having been made in 
other countries to imitate the cuts to his book, and in- 
forms the reader, that he had caused many more cuts 
to be added to this edition than had appeared in any 
other ; a declaration not a little extraordinary, for both 
the editions of 1547, which were also published by this 
person, have the same number of cuts, and contain twelve 
more than the three first editions. These additional 
cuts were probably executed from the unfinished de- 
signs spoken of in the dedication to the first edition. 
Four of them, being groupes of children playing, are 
rather foreign to the subject, but are evidently done by 
the same artist who executed the others. 
" Icones mortis." Basil, 1554. 12mo. 



t 

14 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

extremely clear, however, that Holbein did 
not invent these subjects ; for it appears in a 
dedication, which is only to be found in the 
first edition of this work, that the Painter was 
then dead, and that he had not lived to finish 
some of the designs, which, however, after- 
wards appeared in a subsequent edition. The 
Painter must therefore have died before 1538, 
and it is well known that Holbein was at 

" " Lcs imaijes de la mort, auxqiielles sont adjoustees 
dix sept figures." Lyon, 1562- 12mo. There are but 
five additional figures to this edition, the other twelve 
being what had already appeared, making in the whole 
seventeen more than in the first edition. Of these five 
cnts, which have all the delicacy of the others, three are 
groupes of boys. 

" De doot vermaskert," &c. Antwerp, 1654. 12ino. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 15 

this time living, and continued so until 1555. 
Unluckily no evidence ^vhatever, nor even 
tradition, has been preserved relating to this 
great artist, and it is to be feared that he will 
ever remain undiscovered. 

After what has been said it becomes ne- 
cessary to attempt at least to give some reason 
for the almost universal opinion, that these 
designs were the offspring of Holbein's pen- 
cil. Most of those ^^rite^s who have de- 
scribed the town of Basil, as well as the com- 
pilers of the lives of the Painters, speak of a 
Dance of Death by Holbein, some referriug 
to the old Dance of Macaber, and others to 
the more modem one; but it is not difficult 
to see that they have but transcribed from 



]6 ON THE DANCE Of DEATH. 

each other, without taking any pains to exa- 
mine the subject. Certain is, however, that 
Holbein did paint a Death's Dance in its im- 
proved state, and likewise more than once. 
Bishop Burnet, in his Travels in Switzerland, 
speaks of a Dance of Death, printed by Hol- 
bein, " on the walls of a house where he 
^^ used to drink," which was then so worn out 
that very little was to be seen except shapes 
and postures. He then mentions the old 
Death's Dance at the Dominicans convent,* 
which he says was ^' so worn out some time 
" ago, that they ordered the best painter they 
" had to lay new colours on it ; but this is so 
" ill done, that one had rather see the dead 

* By mistake called the Convent of tlie Augustinians. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 17 

" shadows of Holbein's pencil, (i. e. on the 
" walls of the house,) than this coarse work." 

This account is corroborated by Keysler, 
who adds, that the painting on the house was 
then entirely obliterated. Patin, in his travels, 
also speaks of a house at Basil, curiously 
painted by Holbein, but does not mention 
the subject ; it was probably the same as^ 
Burnet saw. These are the ordy travellers 
who have spoken upon this subject with any 
degree of accuracy, and fortunately their testi- 
mony throws much light upon it. 

To the book already mentioned to have 
been published by the Trechsels, at Lyons, 
they sometimes annexed another, which was 
C 



18 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

in some degree connected with it, and appears 
to have been printed by them the following 
year. This was entitled, " Historiarum Ve- 
" teris Testamenti Icones," the cuts of which 
are in some instances much inferior to the 
others, and apparently by a different artist. 
The designs of these are indisputably by Hol- 
bein, as appears from some verses before the 
book, composed by Nicolas Bourbon, a cotem- 
porary poet, who also wrote some lines upon a 
Dance of Death, painted by Holbein'^. To 
these cuts to the Bible, are prefixed the first 
four which occur in the Dance of Death, as 
ihey likewise belong to the subject, and repre- 
sent the creation and fall of man ; but they are 

* Borbonii Nugarum libri octo. Basil 1540. 12ino. 
p. 445. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 19 

different in size, and were added, not onlj 
from the analogy of the subjects, but from 
the circumstance of their being already in the 
hands of the printer ; and thus, from an odd 
coincidence of things, as well as a palpable 
confusion of the respective verses of Bour- 
bon, seems to have originated an opinion that 
Holbein invented the Dance of Death. 

But it has not only been asserted that Hol- 
bein designed, but that he engraved, or 
rather cut this Dance of Death on wood. 
That he practised this art, nay, that he ex- 
celled in it, there is reason to believe, from 
some specimens that have been preserved, and 
which bear on them the unequivocal marki 
C2 



20 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

of H. H. & HANS. HOLBEN* A 

set of cuts with the latter mark occurs 
in Archbishop Cranmer's Catechism, prints 
ed by Walter Lyne in 1548 ; and although 
the composition of these is extremely 
good, their execution is not only inferior 
to the Dance of Death, but entirely dif* 
ferent in its manner : and the mark of 
J^ which is to be seen upon one of 
the cuts in this latter work, has been 
ascribed without any authority to Holbein, 
upon the strength of the vague opinions 

• It is not, however, impossible that Holbein, in put- 
ting his mark upon these cuts, might only intend to 
shew that he designed them, or drew the subject upon 
the blocks. 



CtSf THE DANCE OF DEATH. 21 

concerning his interference with the Dance 
of Death*. 

The great popularity and success of these 
cuts very soon excited many imitations of 
them, both in copper and on blocks. In 
•1541, Aldegrever engraved eight of them, but 
with very material alterations. Other edi- 
tions of the Imagines Mortis, which had 
been first published under that title in 1545, 
appeared in 1555, 1566, 1573, and pro- 
bably at many other times; these were also 

* This mark is also given by Professor Christ, in his 
Dictionnaire des Monogrammes to Hans Lautensack, 
and Hans Lederer, persons of whom absolutely nothing 
is known. 

C 3 



22 ON THE DANCE OF DEAXH. 

accompanied with cuts in wood by a very 
eminent but unknown artist, whose mark 
is c/jl' ^^^^ mark is also to be found 
in some of the emblems of Sambucus and 
Lejeune, in , some initial letters to Graf- 
ton's Chronicle, and in other cuts executed 
during the sixteenth century*. It is not 

• The inaccurate Papillon, who in matters of historical 
discussion is hardly ever to be trusted, has asserted in his 
" Traite de la gravure en bois," that this is the mark of 
Silvius Antonianus, or Antoniauo. Having found it upon 
•ome cuts, in an edition of Faenio's Fables, printed at Ant- 
werp in 1567, with a dedication to Cardinal Borromeo, by 
Silvius Antoniano, he instantly conceived that he had dis- 
covered the name of the artist in thai of the author of the 
dedication. The fact is, that Antoniano was no engraver, 
but a professor of belles-lettres at Rome, afterwards se- 
cretary to Pope Pius V. and at length a Cardinal. His 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 25 

a little remarkable, that so late as the 
year 1654, there appeared a Dutch book 
prmted at Antwerp, where this artist worked, 

dedication had already appeared in the first edition of 
these fables in 1564, which has a different set of cuts en- 
graved on copper. Another of Papillon's blunders is 
equally curious. He had seen an edition of the emblems 
of Sambucus -with cuts, on which the same mark occurs. 
In this book is a fine portrait of the author, with his 
dog, under whom is the word BOMBO, which Papil- 
lon gravely informs us is the name of the engraver, and 
again refers to it on another cut of one of the emblems 
under a dog also. Had he read the verses belonging to 
this particular emblem, he would have immediately 
seen that it was nothing more than the dog's name, as 
Sambucus himself declares, whilst he pays a laudable 
tribute to the attachment of the faithful companion of 
his travels. 

C4 



24 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

entitled, " Doodt vermaskert/' or " Death 
masked," accompanied with eighteen cuts of 
the Dance of Death, which in the title- 
page are ascribed to Holbein. They are 
all, except three, impressions from the iden- 
tical blocks of the beautiful and original 
cuts of this subject ; but the above-mentioned 
artist has had the effrontery to put his mark, 
together with the figure of a graving tool or 
knife, upon several of them. It is, however, 
possible that he might have repaired them, as 
some of the smaller lines, which in former 
impressions seem to have been injured, are 
here much stronger. 

It might be tedious to describe all the 
imitations of the Dance of Death which 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 2D 

have appeared at diiferent times, as they are 
exceedingly numerous ; but it would be 
unpardonable not to notice an alphabet of 
initial letters with this subject, which, for 
humour and excellence of design, are even 
superior to the celebrated one ; and w ith 
respect to execution, especially when their 
minuteness is considered, being less than an 
inch square, absolutely wonderful. Their comr 
position is entirely different from that of any 
of the others, and one of them is extremely 
indecent. They appear' to have been done 
at Basil ; for in the public library there is 
preserved a sheet, whereon are printed three 
alphabets, viz. the one above mentioned, anor 
ther of boys at play, and the third a dance 
of peasants, &c. The designs of some of 



26 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

the last are the same as those in a similar 
Dance by Holbein, formerly painted on a 
house at Basil, and of which some drawings 
are still preserved ; and it is therefore not im- 
probable that he also designed the Dance of 
Death for these initials. They have appa- 
rently been struck off as proofs or patterns for 
some bookseller*, and at the bottom of the 
sheet is the mark '^Jj with the words " Hans 
" Lutzel burger Formschneider, (i. e. block- 
" cutter,) in Basel." In this manner has 

• They were actually used by Cratander, a printer 
at Basil ; aiid other initial letters, with Dances ofl)eath, 
are to be seen in books printed at Zurich, Strasburg, 
and Vienna, in the sixteenth century. All the alpha- 
bets are in the possession of the compiler of this essay, 
but they have not the monogram. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 27 

been preserved the name of a most exquisite 
artist, whom, from the similarity of stile and 
subject, there is every reason to suppose the 
person who executed the fine cuts of the first 
Dance of Death. As he worked after the 
designs of Holbein, it is also probable that 
the painter might have invented some of the 
seventeen subjects which appeared in conti- 
nuation of the original work, and that Liit- 
zel burger also cut them for the subsequent 
editions. From the extreme delicacy with 
which the initials with the Dance of Death 
are executed, there is reason to suppose that 
they were not cut upon blocks of wood, but 
of metal, as was probably the larger work of 
the same subject ; and in support of this con- 
jecture it may be observed, that blocks of thii 



26 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

kind are still preserved in the cabinets of the 
curious. 

In 1780, Chretien de Mechel, a well-known 
artist and printseller at Basil, published forty- 
five engravings of a Death's Dance, as part 
of the works of Holbein, of which he in- 
tends to give a series. Mr. Coxe, in his 
Travels, has given some account of this work, 
and informs us that they are done after some 
small drawings by Holbein, sketched with a 
pen, and slightly shaded with Indian ink ; 
that these drawings were purchased by Mr. 
Fleichman, of Strasburg, at Crozat's sale at 
Paris, and are now in the collection of 
Prince Gallitzin, Minister from the Empress 
of Russia to the court of Vienna, at which 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 29 

last place he had frequent opportunities of 
seeing and admiring them. He further adds 
that Hollar copied these drawings, an opinion 
which will admit of some doubt. Mons. De 
Mechel's remark, that from the dresses and 
character of several of the figures, it is proba* 
ble the drawings were sketched in England, as 
well as Mr. Coxe's conjecture that they were 
in the x\rundelian collection, will appear but 
slightly founded to any one conversant in the 
dresses of the French and German nations at 
that period, to which they bear at least an 
equal resemblance : again, one of the cuts re- 
presents a King sitting at table under a canopy, 
powdered with Fleurs-de-lis, whose figure 
has a remarkable affinity to the portraits of 
Francis I. If these drawings were copied 



50 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

from the celebrated wooden cuts, they must 
have been done after the year 1547, as eight 
of them did not appear till that time. 

But it has entirely escaped the knowledge 
of all the biographers of Holbein that he 
painted a Dance of Death in fresco, upon 
the walls of the Palace at Whitehall, which 
was consumed by fire in 1697. This cu- 
rious fact is ascertained from two sets of nine- 
teen very indifl'erent etchings from the wooden 
cuts, by one Nieuhoff; they were never 
published, but copies cf them presented to 
the artist's friends, with manuscript dedica- 
tions in the Dutch language, in which he 
speaks of the above-mentioned paintings at 
Whitehall. The book has the following 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. $1 

title engraved in a border, " Imagines Mor- 
" tis, or the Dead Dance of Hans Holbeyn, 
'' Painter of King Henry the VIHth." The 
author, in one of these dedications, addressed 
to the Right Honourable William Benting, in- 
forms him, that " he had met with the scarce 
" little work of H. Holbeyn in wood, which 
" he had himself painted as large as life in fres- 
'' CO, on the walls of Whitehall ; that he had 
" followed the original as nearly as possible, and 
" had presumed to lay his copy before him as 
" being born in the same palace ; that he con- 
" sidered the partiality which every one has for 
" the place of his nativity, and that therefore 
" any account of what was curious and re- 
'' markable therein, and of what was then no 
" more, as being destroyed by a fatal fire, must 



32 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

^' of course prove acceptable, particularly as 
" there were hardly any more remains of the 
*^ palace left than his own dwelling." He then 
states, that the design of the painter resem- 
bled that of the founder of the Greek mo- 
narchy, who ordered these words to be writ- 
ten, to remind him of his mortality, ",Re- 
" member, Philip, that thou art a man," and 
proceeds to describe in a very quaint manner 
the different subjects of his work. The dedi- 
cation to the other copy is nearly in similar 
words, and addressed to Mynheer Heymans, 
who appears in consideration of his singular 
merits to have had a dwelling assigned him in 
the Palace at Whiteliall. From the hand- 
writing and Dutch names in this work, it is 
evidently of the time of William III. but 



ox THE DANCE OF DEATH. S3 

of the artist no merporial is preserved ; Jiow- 
ever, the importance of the fact which he has 
recorded, will render him a valuable personage 
in the opinion of the lovers of the arts. 

After what has been said then, it is to be 
hoped that no additional evidence will be 
requisite to shew that Holbein did not in- 
vent the subjects, nor execute the cuts be- 
longing to the Dance of Death which 
is usually ascribed to him ; that he painted 
it however, and most assuredly more than 
once, seems to be beyond the possibihty of 
doubt. 

It only remains to give some account of 
the prints which are the immediate object of 
D 



34 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

this publication, and to which it is hoped 
the preceding introduction will not have ap- 
peared uninteresting. It has been commonly 
supposed that Hollar copied these prints from 
the original cuts, but Mr. Coxe^ thinks he 
follow ed the drawings engraved by De Mechel, 
which he imagines to have been in the Arun- 
delian collection. Both these opinions seem 
erroneous ; for many of Hollar's prints are 
materially different, as well from the cuts, 
as the drawings ; and are, with two or 
three exceptions, very close copies of the 
euts already mentioned to have been first 
published in 1555, wath the mark of ^^^.f 

* Travels in Switzerland. 

t It is not a little remarkable that almost the same 
variations from the original cuts, are to be found iu 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. oO 

He must therefore have either had before 
him both the sets of wooden cuts, or have 
copied the paintings at Whitehall ; for his 
acknowledged fidelity would have hardly suf- 
fered him to depart from his originals, what- 
ever they were, and as they now remain, they 
are not correct copies of any single existing 
model. 

Hollar's prints were first published in 
1651,''^, with borders designed by Abraham d 

those of the edition of 1555, in De Mechel's prints, and 
in Hollar's etchings ; a circumstance which renders it 
probable that these last were all copied from the same 
originals, which might have been the work of Holbein, 
to whom the variations may be likewise attributed. 

* In 1682 there appeared engraved copies of the 
Dance of Death, in a work entitled " Theatrum mor- 
D2 



36 ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 

Diepenbeke, and afterwards without the bor- 
ders. In this latter impression the letters 
J]3- ^- occur upon every print, and are in- 
tended for " Holbein invenit," as appears 
from some other of Hollar's prints, which 
have upon them these words at length. No 
panegyric is here wanting upon the works of 
this admirable artist ; they are sufficiently 
known and esteemed by every collector of 
taste, and particularly his Dance of Death. 
The plates, which appear to have been but 
little used, have been till lately preserved in a 
noble family, and impressions from them are 



" tis humanaB," by J. Weichard. These engravings are 
vrithin borders of fruit, flowers, and animals, which are 
executed with an uncommon degree of elegance. 



ON THE DANCE OF DEATH. 37 

once more presented to the public, without 
the least alteration. 



Vertue, in his description of Hollar's 
works, mentions that he engraved a reverse 
of the first print, an additional one without a 
border, representing the rich man disregard- 
ing the prayers of the poor, and three others 
from the set after Holbein, with four Latin 
verses at bottom. He also engraved the six 
first letters of the alphabet, adorned with 
small figures of a Death's Dance, and one 
large plate of the same subject for Dugdale's 
St. Paul's, and the Monasticon ; but this last 
plate is only a 'copy from an old wooden cut 
prefixed to Lydgate's Dance of Macaber, 
at the end of his fall of princes, printed by 
D3 



38 O^ THE DAISCE OI DEATH. 

Tottell in 1554, and was not intended to 
represent the Dance of Death at St. PauFs, 
as Mr. Warton has supposed*', but only as 
an emblematical frontispiece to the verses. 

* Observ. on Spenser, Vol. II. 117. 



DESCRIPTIONS 



OF THE 



CUTS 



IN 



HOLLAR'S DANCE 



OF 



DEATH, 



41 



FRONTISPIECE. 



IT has been supposed by Papillon, with- 
out the least authority, or even probabiHty, 
that the two figures represent the persons for 
whom Holbein painted this work. It has 
been already shewn that Holbein did not de- 
sign this plate. It is altogether emblemati- 
cal, and appears to be an heraldic al represen- 
tatios of mortality, viz. a tattered shield, 
suimounted with a death's head ; the crest, 
an hour-glass between two arms of a skele- 
ton, holding part of a skull. The tw o figures 
are probably intended for supporters, and 



,4G 

represent the dress of the Swiss Nobility 
of the sixteenth century. The " MOR- 
'' TALIVM NOBILITAS" was added 
by Hollar, and is a very concise and admi- 
rable explanation of the subject, 




^uia^ axidjjQti voortn. vxoris tu«. & co - 



43 



THE TEMPTATION. 

II. 

ADAM and in Eve in Paradise. Eve, se- 
duced by the serpent, who in this and most 
other eminent representations of the subject, is 
depicted with a human face, appears to have 
just tasted of the forbidden fruit, which she 
holds up to Adam, and prevails on him to 
gather another apple from th^ tree. In re- 
presenting this subject, it is very seldom that 
artists have been correct. 



44 

The expulsion from PARADISE. 

III. 

ADA^I and Eve driven by the Angel 
from Paradise, are preceded by Death, who 
is playing on a violin, and rejoicing at this 
introduction to his dance. The artist from 
whom Hollar copied, not comprehending the 
instrument of music in the original cut, which 
is the antient cymbal or hurdy-gurdy, has 
improperly converted it into a very awkward 
violin. 




.yo v-olttpta-Hs, vd. operajtretitr tprrxux tL- jva 
i^i-v^pt^xs est (FV/iT j. ^ 



!^ 



45 



The fulfilling of the CURSE. 

IV. 

ADAM tilling the earth, assisted by 
Death. In the back ground is Eve, suckhng 
her first-born son, and holding at the same 
time a distaff. From this manner of treat- 
ing the subject by the old painters, seems to 
have originated the saying, 

When Adam delv'd and Eve span, 
Where was then the gentleman ? 

It is also to be found in many other 
languages. 



4() 



THE POPE. 

V. 

AN Emperor kneels before the Pope, who 
is about to place a crown upon his head. A 
Death behind, leans with one hand upon the 
Pope's chair, with the other upon a crutch. 
The ceremony is attended by Cardinals and 
Bishops : one of the former is ludicrously 
personated by another Death. The varia- 
tions in this cut from the original are very 
considerable, and two grotesque Devils are 
entirclv omitted. 




^i;f>»-uiiu- 5.«)eKlo_s' TiiA^nife^ 1-SU-- -; 
^t Ji pilr-jp^tmit eia«- ai:cipuit alter. Ft 




Diftioxic cJLptiutiiii*, tnorierw emin 



47 



THE EMPEROR. 

VI. 

THE painter's meaning here is not ex- 
tremely clear. The Emperor, seated on his 
throne, seems to be administering justice be- 
tween a rich and a poor man. He holds in 
his hand the Curtana, or sword of mercj. 
Death stands behind him, and appears to be 
plucking off his crown. 



48 



THE EMPRESS. 

VII. 

THE Empress, decked with all the pomp 
of majest}', and attended by her maids of 
honour, is overtaken by Death, who, in the 
character of a shrivel'd old woman, points to 
a grave, and seems to say, " to this must you 
" come at last." 



if^ 




Gra^Uenie* an iuperJ^ia:- poieA r>r- 







Zs-M- T^, 



49 



THE QUEEN. 

VIII. 

She is walking out from her palace, accom- 
panied by two of her ladies and her jester. 
Death, having previously despoiled the motley 
personage of his habiliments, and grotesquely 
decorated himself therewith, is forcibly drag- 
ging away the Queen. The fool attempts in- 
effectually to protect her, whilst the female 
attendants join in the lamentations of their 
mistress. 



K 



so 



THE CARDINAL. 

IX. 

HE is disposing of his indulgencies to a 
rich offender, who brings with him a chest of 
money. Death snatches off the Cardinal's 
hat. 




Prinrepj indtDctur tna?roi'e, Lt qtuf icf* 



9 I 



THE DUKE. 
X. 



HE is seen just coming out of his palace, 
accompanied with his retinue. A poor beg- 
gar with her child craving charity of him is 
rejected, whilst Death is supposed invisibly to 
lay his hands upon him. 



52 



THE BISHOP. 

XI. 

DEATH leading off the principal shep- 
herd, the rest terrified betake themselves to 
flight, and the flocks are dispersed. The set- 
ting sun is very judiciously introduced upon 
this occasion. 




?erci]uiiamPailprem, & cUlpef Sjetx ' 

bit- ovtcy ,c?reoi*\ -^^^ ^^ -^^'^ '-^ 




ivmtn. omaiia- njeqite ctxiixeo ctcicenc?E'i 



53 



THE NOBLEMAN. 

XII. 

DEATH, in the character of a ragged 
and oppressed peasant, has despoiled the 
noblemen of his paraphernalia, and is dash- 
ing his shield or coat of arms to pieces. On 
the ground lie scattered a helmet, crest, and 
flail. 



E3 



54 



THE ABBOT. 

XIII. 

DEATH, in a very ludicrous attitude, 
^vith the Abbot's mitre on his head, and his 
crosier on his shoulder, has seized him by the 
cloak, whilst the other endeavours to disen- 
gage himself, and appears to be throwing his 
breviary at his assailant. If Hollar copied 
the original wooden cut of this subject, he 
has very much deviated from the admirable 
character of the fat and pampered Abbot. 




iempi^fcitf 



^ m -rrctcifcitud.iaTje' rtu:Lri_tur Uta*. 



■s^rt"*,- «»; 



55 



THE ABBESS. 

XIV. 

DEATH, fantastically dressed in a sort of 
mantle, with feathers on his head, exulting- 
\y seizes the Abbess by the wimple, and 
leads her away from the convent; whilst a, 
nun in the back ground is piteously bewail- 
ing the fate of her mistress. 



56 



THE FRIAR. 

XV 

THIS poor mendicant is endeavouring 
to escape with his wallet and money-box from 
the clutches of Death, who has seized him 
by the cowl, and drags him away with great 
violence. 




^'Uyftis Yit ctos in mendiciialc -'T"' '"'' 



0( 



THE NUN. 

XVI. 

HERE is a mixture of gallantry and de- 
votion. A young lady who has precipitately 
taken the veil, seems to have admitted her 
lover into her apartment. She is kneeling 
before an altar, and hesitates whether to per- 
sist in her devotions, or listen to the amorous 
ditties of the youth, who, seated on a bed, 
accompanies them on a Theorbo lute. Death 
extinguishes the candles on the altar; the 
painter hereby intimating the punishment 
which awaits on criminal love. 



58 



THE PREACHER. 

. XYll 

FROM the motto to this print, the pain- 
ter seems to have designed the representation 
of an hypocritical preacher. Death behind, 
with a stole round his neck, is lying in wait 
for him, and holds in his hand what is not 
very distinguishable in Hollar's print j in the 
original it is evidently a jaw-bone. 







wiUvra- 



59 



THE PHYSICIAN. 

XVUI. 

DEATH is introducing an aged patient, 
whose water he carries in an urinal, and 
exhibits to the physician, whom he is sup- 
posed to address emphatically in these words, 
" physician, heal thyself; thy patient is al- 
" ready consigned to me/' 



i)0 



THE SOLDIER. 

XIX. 

THIS hero, after vanquishing his ene- 
mies and escaping the perils of war, meets at 
length with a foe whom he resists in vain. 
At a distance another Death appears, beating 
a drum, and leading on a company of sol- 
diers to battle. In the original cut, Death 
is more characteristically armed with a thigh- 
bone, instead of a dart. 







no 7r^-rt£. 



61 



THE ADVOCATE. 

XX. 

THE rich client is seen putting a bribe 
into the hands of the dishonest lawyer, to 
which Death also contributes, but reminds 
him at the same time that his glass is run 
out. To this admonition he seems to pay 
little regard, being altogether occupied in 
counting the money. Behind this groupe 
stands the poor suitor, wringing his hands, 
and lamenting that his poverty disables him 
from coping with his powerful adversary. 



62 



THE NEW MARRIED COUPLE. 

XXI. 

THE happy couple, whom the church 
has just united, are admonished by the beat 
of Death's drum, that they will probably un- 
dergo a speedy separation. The lady seems 
to be a good deal affected with the odd gesti- 
culations of this unwelcome monitor, whilst 
the husband endeavours to console her. 




Me cV tc fola^m-or^ fepsuraLit .^' 




X)v^Ci^eatinhottis ekes- Cuos Sc ixl 



63 



THE YOUNG MAIDEN. 

XXII. 

THE lady is exhibited in her dressing- 
room with her maid, who is bringing her a 
splendid robe, with a chain necklace of gold. 
Upon a chest are seen a looking-glass, a 
sponge, a brush, and a box of paint. Death 
behind, ornaments the girl with a necklace 
of bones. 



64 



THE MERCHANT. 

xxm. 

AFTER having escaped the perils of the 
sea and happily reached the wished-for shore, 
with his bales of merchandize, this too secure 
adventurer, whilst contemplating his riches, 
is surprized by his unwelcome visitor. Tlie 
rest of his companions betake themselves to 
flight. 




Venitcaduie oniiie^ c|ui Ltborat 



65 



THE PEDLAR. 

XXIV. 

ACCOMPANIED by his faithful dog, 
and heavily laden with goods, the poor man 
is arrested in his progress by the hands of 
Death, who undertakes to ease him of his 
burthen. It is in vain that he points to the 
place of his destination ; he is forcibly com- 
pelled to change his route. Another Death 
leads off this dance with a jig upon the trump- 
marine. 



66 



THE MISER. 

XXV. 

DEATH has penetrated into the strong 
hold of the miser, and seated on a stool, deli- 
berately collects into a large dish the money 
which he had been counting, whilst the mi- 
ser, in an agony of terror and despair, is 
wringing his hands, and vainly imploring 
mercy. 



67 



THE WAGGONER. 

XXVI. 

THE carriage is overturned, and one of 
the horses thrown down. A figure of Death 
is carrying oflf a wheel which he has just torn 
away, whilst another appears to be staving a 
cask of wine.^ The terrified waggoner is ut- 
tering loud lamentations at this unlooked-for 
misfortune ; the whole forming one of the 
most excellent groupes in the series. 

* In the dedication to the first edition of the genuine 
wooden cuts, it is said that this figure is lickerously 
sucking out the wine through a reed ; but this appears 
to be a mistake, as it is rather untwisting one of the stays 
which secure the cask. 



68 



THE GAMESTERS. 

XXVII. 

THREE persons at a gaming-table are 
interrupted in their sport by Death and the 
Devil, between whom a contest arises for the 
possession of one of the party. Death has 
seized him by the throat, whilst his antago- 
nist as violently drags him by the hair of his 
head. Another of the gamblers seems to in- 
tercede for his companion, whilst the third 
scrapes together all the money on the table. 




mxxza. Ivccre.ttir a.tmnai-3utte.t3a- I-a^E. - oe iti. lueiv 



69 



THE VERY OLD MAN. 

XXVIII. 

THIS is a beautiful emblem of man's 
second infancy. The helpless creature, bowed 
down with age, appears to listen with delight 
to the music of a dulcimer, with which Death 
beguiles him, and eyen wishes to handle it. 
His conductor insidiously leads him to the 
grave. \ 



70 



THE AGED WOMAN. 

XXIX. 

THE tedious pace of this old woman, 
who is more occupied with ji rosary composed 
of bones than with the music of a Death 
who precedes her, playing on the wooden 
psalter or dulcimer, is discovered in the im- 
patience of another Death, who presses her 
forward with blows. 




N\eU. 



or e«rt ^'tor^e ^niM-in. \iia_ £x-cifi tc 




HfOttMs aittis de tniviiere breiu vT-ucti^ tern* 
DOKc^rcniEtwr nxuiti* mifecyj:: qui mxafi tlov ■ 



71 



THE INFANT. 

■ '' XXX. 

WHILST the poor widow is preparing 
food for her children in her miserable cot- 
tage, Death enters and carries off her youngest 
child, leaving her with the other to bewail 
his untimely fate. 



Jp 



DANCE 



OF 



M A C A B E R 



THE 



DANCE 



OF 



M A C A B E R. 

John LYDGATE, a monk of the BeKC- 
dictine Abbey of Bui-y in Suffolk, flourished in 
the reign of Henry VI. He was an uncom- 
mon ornament of his profession, his genius 
being so lively, and his accomplishments so 
numerous, that it is hardly probable the holy 
father St. Benedict would have acknowledged 
him for a genuine disciple. After a short edu- 
cation at Oxford, he travelled into France 
and Italy, and returned a complete master of 



76 • , ' 

ibe language and the literature of both 
countries. He chiefly studied the Italian 
and French poets, particularly Dante, Boc- 
caccio, and Alain Chartier ; and became so 
distinguished a proficient in polite learning, 
that he opened a school in his monastery for 
teaching the sons of the nobility the arts of 
versification, and the elegancies of composi- 
tion. Yet although philology was his ob- i 
ject, he was not unfamiliar with the fashion- 
able philosophy : he was not only a poet and 
a rhetorican, but a geometrician, an astrono- 
mer, a theologist, and a disputant. He made 
considerable addition to those amplifications 
of our language, in which Chaucer, Gower, 
and Occleve led the way, and is the first of 
our writers whose stile is clothed with that 



77 

perspicuity in which the Enghsh phraseology 
appears at this day to an Enghsh reader. 
His muse was of universal access, and he 
was not only the poet of his monastery, but 
of the world in general. If a disguising was 
intended by the company of goldsmiths, a 
mask before his Majesty at Eltham, a may- 
game for the sheriffs and aldermen of Lon- 
don, a mumming before the Lord Mayor, 
a procession of pageants from the creation, 
for the festival of Corpus Christi, or a carol 
for the coronation, Lydgate was consulted, 
and gave the poetry. 

Mr. Warton, from whose elegant history 
of English Poetry the above account of Lyd- 
gate is extracted, further informs us, that he 



78 

translated Macaber's Dance of Death from 
the French, at the request of the Chapter of 
Saint Paul'sy to be inscribed under the pamt- 
ing of that subject in their cloister; but it 
appears from the verses themselves, that he 
undertook the translation at the instance of a 
French clerk. Lydgate's poem is neither a 
literal or complete translation of the French 
version from Macaber ;* and this he himself 
confesses, 

" Out of the French I drough it of intent 

" Not word by word but following in substance." 

• This French translation has been erroneously given 
to Michel Marot, who was not bom at the time when 
it was first printed. See De Bure Bibliog. instruct. No. 
3109, and Warton's Correct, and Add. to Vol. II. of 
Hist, of Engl. Poetry. 



79 

Again, the number of the characters hi 
Lydgate is much less than in the French, 
being only thirty-five, whilst the other con- 
tains seventy-six, and he has not only omit- 
ted several, but supplied their places with 
others; so that if these lines were inscribed 
under the painting at Saint Paul's, it must 
have differed materially from that at Saint 
Innocent's at Paris. Stowe, upon whose 
sole authority all the information concerning 
this painting depends, says, that on the north 
side of Saint Paul's church was a great 
cloister, environing a plot of ground, of old 
time called Pardon church-yard, whereof 
Thomas More, Dean of St. Paul's, w^as 
either the first builder, or a great benefactor, 
and was buried there. About this cloister 



80 

was artificially and richly painted the Dance 
of Machabray, a Dance of Death commonly 
called the Dance of Paul's ; the like whereof 
zcas painted about St. Innocent's cloister at 
Paris; the metres or poetry of this Dance 
were translated out of French into English, 
by John Lydgate, Monk of Bury. He adds, 
that this was done at the expence of Jenken 
Carpenter^ in the reign of Henry the Vlth, 
so that the poem and the painting appear to 
have been finished about the same time. 

In the year of 1549, on the tenth of April, 
the whole of this cloister, together with the 

• This Jenken Carpenter was town clerk of Lon- 
don, 1430, and executor of Richard Whittington. 
Wecvcr's Funeral Monuni. p. 379. fo. edition. 



81 

Dance of Death, tlie tombs, and monuments, 
was begun to be pulled down by command 
of the* Duke of Somerset, so that nothinjr 
thereof was left but the bare plot of ground, 
which was aftewrards converted into a garden 
for the petty Canons."* 

All the antient Dances of Death, though 
evidently to be deduced from one original, 
differed very materially in the number and 
design of the characters. They uniformly 
appear to have been accompanied with Ma- 
caber's Verses, or more probably with imi- 
tations of them. 

* Stowe's Survey. 



u 



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